Because every person grieves differently, it’s important for funeral professionals to offer a variety of grief support resources to help individuals through the most difficult times in their lives. In addition to aftercare activities such as hosting grief support groups, sponsoring holiday memorial services and helping families recognize milestones after a loved one’s death, providing a library of grief support books can be valuable to your client families and others in your community.
As you build or refresh your firm’s grief support library, be sure to consider that different people will find different types of books meaningful. Some individuals benefit from books based in spirituality or specific religious beliefs. Others may prefer memoirs about grief and loss because they can discover common ground in the authors’ experiences. Some may find value in practical guides to living life after loss, or resources that address specific circumstances such as the death of a parent. Be sure to include a selection of books to help parents talk to young children about the death of a loved one.
Below is a list of highly rated books to consider for your funeral home’s library:
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler
Renowned psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is best known for her theory on the five stages of grief, which she developed through her work with terminally ill individuals. She went on to publish her findings in her book On Death and Dying and wrote and contributed to many other publications on the topics of coping with the reality of one’s own death or the deaths of loved ones. She co-authored On Grief and Grieving, which she hoped would “become a beacon by shedding light, hope and comfort on the most difficult time we will all experience in our lives.”
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief
By Martha Whitmore Hickman
After funeral services, families are faced with learning to adopt a “new normal.” Martha Whitmore Hickman’s Healing After Loss provides a thought-provoking quote and reflection passage for every day of the year. The book has been praised for its format, which gives readers a new entry to look forward to every day.
Living with Loss: One Day at a Time
By Rachel Blythe Kodanaz
Bestselling author and lecturer Rachel Blythe Kodanaz became a widow at age 31, and her experiences with grief helped her touch the lives of others who are grieving through her book, Living with Loss. The book takes a day-by-day approach to learning to live without a loved one and has been recognized as a resource that “can help make the journey a bit more bearable and perhaps even more meaningful.”
By Granger E. Westberg
For more than 50 years, Westberg’s Good Grief has offered comfort for families who have lost a loved one. The book explores the role of religious faith in grief and covers many different emotions that individuals may experience, such as depression, guilt and anger.
Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss
By Pat Schwiebert, Chuck DeKlyen (Authors) and Taylor Bills (Illustrator)
Tear Soup is a resource that can provide support for both children and adults who have lost a loved one. The illustrated book sheds light on the process of grieving through the story of a woman who is creating a “tear soup” with various ingredients that contribute to her experience.
I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One
By Brook Noel and Pamela Blair, PhD
A loved one’s death is difficult for any family, and a sudden, unexpected death can bring a unique set of challenges. Through advice and personal stories, the book provides support for many different types of experiences. One reviewer wrote that I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye “is both practical and instructive, taking a developmental approach to grief with the understanding that one doesn’t simply ‘get over it,’ but deals at various stages down the road.”
Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss
By Hope Edelman
While attending graduate school, writer Hope Edelman began an essay about the grief she experienced after the death of her mother. This piece became the foundation of Motherless Daughters, her book chronicling the stories of women who had lost their mothers. The book has been praised as “a moving and valuable treatment of a neglected subject.”
Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Husband or Wife Dies
By Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD
In the Healing Your Grieving Heart series, widely recognized author, educator and grief counselor Dr. Alan Wolfelt addresses specific losses, such as the death of a child, sibling or, in the case of Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart, a husband or wife. In the book, Wolfelt affirms that although there is no such thing as “getting over” grief, “if you mourn well, over time and with the support of others, your grief will soften.”
I Miss You: A First Look at Death
By Pat Thomas (Author) and Leslie Harker (Illustrator)
“Every day someone is born… and every day someone dies. Death is a natural part of life. All living things grow, change and eventually die.” Throughout I Miss You, author Pat Thomas explains the meaning of death in simple-to-understand terms. With a suggested age range of four to eight years, this illustrated book is intended to help parents and caregivers talk to children about dying.
The Invisible String
By Patrice Karst (Author) and Geoff Stevenson (Illustrator)
The Invisible String is a resource to help children work through the emotions they may experience as a result of separation from loved ones. Through the story of siblings Jeremy and Liza, it gently explains the lasting connections that people form with those they love, despite separation through distance or even death.
On your funeral home website’s grief support resources page, include a frequently updated list of the books that are available in your firm’s library. By letting families know about resources they can borrow, and by sharing that you’re available to help locate additional materials, you’ll demonstrate that you’re willing to support your community long after funeral services.
What other books and resources have you felt were particularly valuable for the families in your community or for helping you with your own grief experiences? Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below.